So today I was bored and decided to rewatch an anime. With the seeming lack of good quality anime nowadays, I needed something that would keep me watching for several hours. The anime that immediately came to mind was Martian Successor Nadesico (aka Mobile Battleship Nadesico).
Nadesico first aired in 1996 and ran for 26 episodes with 1 movie that came out in If you haven’t been watching anime long enough to know of Nadesico, here’s a quick breakdown of the series from Wikipedia:
The series takes place in the year 2196 and Earth is warring with a race of alien invaders called the “Jovian Lizards”. To combat it, a company called Nergal designs a space battleship, the ND-001 Nadesico. While the ship is powerful and its crew consists of the top civilian experts in their fields, these individuals tend to have “some slight personality disorders”.
The primary protagonist, Akito Tenkawa, is a boy with a mysterious past; once a resident of Mars’ Utopia colony, he escaped its destruction by the Jovian Lizards and arrived on Earth, with no memory of how he got there but a terrible fear of the invaders. He hates fighting and only wants to be a chef, however, he is constantly called on to act as a pilot of one of the Nadesico’s Aestivalis – humanoid combat robots. While on board the Nadesico, Akito has more problems to deal with than just the Jovians; nearly all the female members of the crew, especially the vessel’s captain Yurika Misumaru, seem to be head over heels in love with him, though all he wants to do is cook and watch his favorite anime, Gekigangar III.
I think the crew’s “slight personality disorders” is really what give Nadesico its high entertainment value. For example, Yurika’s ditzy and sometimes absent-minded behaviour combined with her role as captain of the Nadesico makes for some comedic scenes as she tries to win over Akito’s heart. However, the heavy industries company, Nergal, which built the Nadesico didn’t choose Yurika to be the captain for nothing. Time and time again Yurika is able to step up to the plate and prove her abilities as captain by overcoming adverse conditions.
Yurika’s moments in the spotlight is also something I enjoyed in Nadesico but find lacking in other anime. Unlike other anime where winning battles depends on how much you believe in yourself/friends/special powers, battles in Nadesico are won with a sound strategy (and sometimes overwhelming firepower). My favourite battle was when the Nadesico was fighting a ship with a new weapon that they couldn’t defend against. After failing to run away, they were able to fight back by shutting off all of their systems (essentially becoming invisible) and playing a game of cat and mouse. I enjoy these types of battles over ones where the protagonists win with no real strategy and only because they now “believe” they can win.
Very few anime have their characters thought out as well as the characters in Nadesico. In elementary school, I was taught that one of the major components of any story is character development, something that I thought was done pretty well here. Akito, for one, starts off as an apathetic character wanting nothing to do with the war, but with all that’s happening around him, he begins to take on an active role in the fight against the Jovians. The death of a close friend (yes, a main character dies) helps with Akito’s development as a character as he experiences sorrow, anger, and helplessness; and finds a way to overcome these feelings and become stronger.
One little thing that the director of Nadesico, Tatsuo Sato, did which I really liked was that he researched the material he put into the anime. What I mean is that unlike other sci-fi stories where almost everything is made up, the stuff about bosons and time travel might be possible, based on what was known in the 90’s. I actually got interested in that stuff way back and read a bunch of articles on the subject. Thanks to Nadesico, I aced elementary quantum physics in high school. Of course, we won’t know if any of the stuff in Nadesico is actually possible until the Large Hadron Collider gets fixed and is up and running.
Despite all the seriousness in Nadesico, there’s actually quite bit of humour, mainly from all the girls fighting over Akito, but there is some stuff worked into the story. The Jovians, for example, treat a certain robot anime as their bible and worship the main characters; they even have little mecha figures which you can see in some scenes. There was also one fanservice episode in which an idol competition was held to determine the next captain of the Nadesico.
Speaking of fanservice, that’s another thing that older series like Nadesico did differently (and I think better). Rather than bombarding viewers with panty shots ever 2-3 minutes, there were 1 or 2 episodes dedicated to dressing up the female characters in swimsuits and whatnot. I think doing it this way is better since it doesn’t take away from the main plot, but still gives some viewers what they want.
Of course, some people might not agree with me about Nadesico being the best anime ever, but if you haven’t seen it then I suggest you at least watch the first three episodes. If you don’t like it after that, then there’s not much I can do for you. For people that have seen Nadesico, what did you think of it?